What I’ve Learned about Toddlers

Last week I had the pleasure of being observed during toddler story time by a new staff member.  We had a wonderful time together!  I couldn’t help but reflect on all the things I’ve learned this last year that have made my toddler story times run so much more smoothly… so rather than working on my real homework, I thought I’d share my experiences with you.

Seven Random Tips for Toddler Storytime (From a Still Learning Rookie):

  1. Make parents/caregivers your allies.  Lay out expectations for participation right from the get-go!  If kiddos are super wiggly, ask them to grab a grown-up and sit in a lap.  Have them hold onto shakers until it’s time to sing and dance with their littles.  It’s okay to say, “You are your child’s first and best teacher, so we ask that you participate with us and model for your children during story time today.”  Consider displaying posters with visual cues!
  2. Keep it short, simple and sweet.  This goes for books and activities in general!  Make time for plenty of movement and interaction.
  3. Seriously… the texts you select will make or break your toddler storytime.  Some of my favorite authors include Sandra Boynton, Nancy Tafuri, Denise Fleming, Emily Gravett, Steve Light, Marie Torres Cimarusti and Jan Thomas.  Look for books with lots of repetition and fun noises.  The CLEL Bell Awards for Sing and Play have always gone well with my toddler crowd.
  4. Shake, shimmy and groove!  Maybe it’s just my crowd, but my toddlers seem to prefer shakers to scarves, so we hop around to a lot of shaker songs… and songs that aren’t specifically for shakers.  Really, you can make anything a shaker song if you try.
  5. Make flannels fun and interactive.  I discovered early on that most toddlers won’t sit still while you sing about 10 elephants in the bathtub… nor should they have to!  Share flannels that everyone can engage with, such as this Mitten Matching game.
  6. Wear a hat.  I kid you not!  What started off as a silly one-time thing has now turned into a ritual with my kiddos.  I usually wear a theme-related hat to storytime, but any old hat will do.  At some point during our welcome song it falls off my head and I pretend I can’t find it.  Gets them giggling and having a good time right away.  🙂
  7. Lastly… BE PREPARED!  Maybe it’s a day where you’ll have to sing and dance more than read, and that’s okay too.  Being flexible is the biggest key to having a fun toddler storytime for all!

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What are your favorite tricks of the trade when it comes to toddlers?  Please share!

Flannel Friday: Mitten Matching Game

Aaaand I’m back with one more for Flannel Friday!  Again, thanks Mollie at What Happens in Storytime.  Can’t wait to see the awesome flannels everyone else came up with this week!

I’ve got another fun interactive flannel to share.  This one is a mitten matching game.  The kiddos in the crowd get one mitten, then I put the rest on the board and they come up in an orderly line to find their match.  Because we all know how great toddlers are at being orderly.  🙂  Alternatively, you could throw the other mittens on the floor and let them scramble around to find them, but I had some really small littles when I did this and I didn’t want them to get trampled.

Since I did this the week after Christmas I was able to get by with just basic colored mittens, but next year I’ll be adding much more fun patterned ones for a bigger crowd.

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Mitten Matching Game

Each mitten has a mate, has a mate.

Each mitten has a mate, has a mate.

It’s part of our game, find the one that looks the same!

Each mitten has a mate, has a mate.

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Credit: Miss Carole, Season Sings!,”Each Mitten Has Mate”

Flannel Friday: Building Mr. Snowman

Happy Flannel Friday!  Many thanks to Mollie at What Happens in Storytime for hosting this week and graciously giving us latecomers some extra time.  First full week back with grad school was a killer!

Like I mentioned last week, I took a great ALSC early childhood programming webinar a few months ago and am working hard to make more interactive flannels that let the audience participate more.  Here’s a snowman I made for my preschoolers to build back in December.  We oftentimes have 30+ kiddos at our storytimes, so I made a lot of extra birds.  🙂

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Building Mr.Snowman

(think “I Went to Visit a Farm One Day”)

I went walking in the snow one day.

I saw a snowman along the way.

I said, “Mr. Snowman, what do you need?

He said, “Two eyes so I can see!”

Repeat with “My nose, oh pretty please

Two arms, oh pretty please

Two mittens, oh pretty please

Three buttons on my belly

Two boots upon my feet

My scarf to stay warm and cozy

My top hat to look snazzy

Some birds to keep me company!”

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Credit: inspired by Miss Alison is Blogging

Flannel Friday: The Veggies in the Soup

Here’s my second installment of this week’s soup-er Flannel Friday!    Again, many thanks to Anne at So Tomorrow for hosting this week.

So I recently took a wonderful ALSC Webinar all about best practices in story time.  (Are you a member of ALSC?  You should be… they’re great!)  Anyways, one of the things brought up was the importance of flannels that encourage audience participation, especially for toddlers.  This is a tall order for my storytimes… which sometimes have more than 100 people packed in the room!  Nonetheless it’s definitely one of my priorities for the New Year.

So I fudged a bit this week… I made a flannel pot in which laminated veggie clipart could be put into.  🙂  We still had a lot of fun!

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The Veggies in the Soup

To the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”

First verse: The carrots go in the soup, the carrots go in the soup,

We’ll stir and stir and stir some more

When the carrots are in the soup!

(repeat with other vegetables)

Last verse: Now the soup is done, now the soup is done

We’ll eat and eat and eat some more

Now that the soup is done.

YUM!

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Credit: adapted from Mrs. Albanese

Pattern: I used clip art I bought years ago on Teachers Pay Teachers…

Flannel Friday: Veggie Riddles

Happy Flannel Friday!  Many thanks to Anne at So Tomorrow for hosting this week.

It’s January and you know what that means… SOUP MONTH!  I had so much fun planning and delivering a soup-er themed storytime for our team this month.  I made a vegetable riddle flannel for our Preschool/Family crowd.  This flannel goes along great with Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert!

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Vegetable Riddles

I’m red and round,

I also have seeds.

Sliced up in salads,

Is where you’ll see me!

(tomato)

I’m a root vegetable,

I can be red, white or green.

I can make you cry

When you cut into me!

(onion)

I grow underground,

But I have skin and eyes.

I can be roasted or mashed,

Or made into fries!

(potato)

Rabbits like to eat me

When I grow in a field.

I’m an orange vegetable.

I taste best when I’m peeled!

(carrot)

I’m yellow and yummy,

I grow on a stalk.

You can eat me on the cob,

Or cook me in a pot!

(corn)

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Pattern: templates from Pattern Universe

Credit: Most from Riddles for Kids, some original

I’ll be back soon to post a review of how storytimes went this week!  Hope everyone has a good weekend.  Grad school starts for me next week… so not ready!  😦